Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cruz Is Running

As if it’s a big surprise, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is planning to make it official.  Via the National Journal:

According to sources close to the Texas senator, Cruz could be preparing for an end-of-year announcement and is now dedicating considerable time and effort to cultivating a foreign-policy foundation that might help his candidacy stand out in what is guaranteed to be a crowded field.

“At this point it’s 90/10 he’s in,” one Cruz adviser said. “And honestly, 90 is lowballing it.”

It’s always risky to make predictions about elections this far out, but when you have a candidate that is that far-out, it’s easy: if the fates have a twisted sense of humor and let him get all the way to the nomination, he’s going to make the Goldwater campaign of 1964 look like a squeaker.  The only candidate he could possibly beat is Teddy the Wonder Lizard, and that would be because the voters couldn’t tell one Ted from the other.

I’d give Rick Santorum a better chance.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Danger of Foregone Conclusions

It’s only September before a mid-term election; the ads for this one are barely up and running, and already we’re getting inundated with speculation and prognostication about the election that’s coming up after this one.  And it’s all about just one candidate.

The reader may be surprised to learn that Clinton did not reveal her 2016 plans to a reporter on a ropeline. Nor to the other reporter who asked. Actually, it appeared as though Clinton was following the plan of every other 2016 candidate—pacing herself before the midterms, making a decision after them. It’s almost unheard of to announce a presidential run before the previous cycle’s midterms are over, and the only guy who’s broken that recently was Mike Gravel, who did not become the nominee.

So, how to interpret Joe Scarborough’s rant about Hillary and imperial frontrunners? Scarborough wonders (in September 2014) if Clinton is blowing it already, because in 2008 “it wasn’t against her back was against the wall that she had to stop acting like a robot on the campaign trail and start acting like herself that she started winning.” (Again, it’s September 2014.)

The Villagers and those who enable them have all decided that not only is Hillary Clinton running for president, she’s already won the primaries, delivered her acceptance speech, vetting a VP candidate within an inch of his life (my money is that it will be a Hispanic male), and is settling in to go over cabinet choices and Oval Office decor.  So with that over and nothing else to do for the next two and half years, they have to write something — anything — and they’ll find every nit to pick, debate wardrobe choices, hair styles, and glasses.  The more serious ones will chase every dead-end leak about Benghazi! and use up air on Fox wondering what she will do to keep Bill under control while she rules the world; have they tried Invisible Fence yet?

When Hillary Clinton says she hasn’t made up her mind to run yet, I take her at her word.  She’s either amused by all the cat-and-laser-pointer antics the press goes through every time she shows up at an event, knowing that once she announces one way or another, the waiting will be over and the attention level will drop off like the second season of Under The Dome.

I’ll give her this much: she knows how to tease it out, and Joe Scarborough’s rant just plays right into it; her press secretary should send him candy.  (Yes, she’s got me doing it, too.  Well played, Ms. Clinton.)  But then, it wouldn’t surprise me either if she wakes up some morning in February 2015 and decides “who needs this shit?”

HT to Anne Laurie.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Threepeat

Mitt Romney is being all coy about it, but you know he’s dying to run again.

“Circumstances can change, but I’m just not going to let my head go there,” he said during an interview on the “The Hugh Hewitt Show” radio program.

Well, why not?  It’s not like he’s got anything better to do.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Road To Oblivion

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is thinking about running for president but won’t decide until after the mid-terms.

Not that he would take my advice, but if I sincerely were to offer it, I would tell him not to even try.  He didn’t help Mitt Romney as his VP candidate in 2012 and aside from the fact he’s not particularly ugly, he offers nothing in new ideas or dynamics than your average TV infomercial huckster.

He would also seal his reputation as a minor blip on the screen up against such luminaries as Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and Rand Paul in the never-ending saga of GOP debates.  He would come across as the sensible and mild-mannered one, and that’s not what the Republican base is looking for in a president.  They want bat-shit crazy, and he doesn’t cut it in that department.

The cynic in me says go ahead and run, Paul, run.  It’d be fun to watch his campaign sputter and crater.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Look At Me!

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is tired of being ignored.

Bachmann made the revelation during an interview, in which she was asked for her view on whether any Republican women might seek the Oval Office in 2016.

“The only thing that the media has speculated on is that it’s going to be various men that are running,” she replied. “They haven’t speculated, for instance, that I’m going to run. What if I decide to run? And there’s a chance I could run.”

The reason no one in the media is speculating about her is because they’re not unbalanced.  The only reason she would run is because she’s running short on cash, and hubby Marcus is just dying for a new pair of pumps for the fall cotillion season.

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, and grifters gotta grift.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Don’t Quote Me

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey; he must be living under a bridge or something.

The reason is that the politician who campaigned as a straight talker/no bullshit tell-it-like-it-is doesn’t want to end up being quoted.

In an interview on Wednesday on CNBC, Christie reminded viewers how he conducts business: “[O]wn up to what your positions are. Say what they are. If that’s not good enough to win, then you don’t want to govern under those circumstances anyway.”

He then proceeded to repeatedly dodge a series of direct questions posed by the interviewer, journalist John Harwood. Does he support closing the Export-Import Bank? “I don’t spend a lot of time focusing on the Export-Import Bank.” Does he think that people responsible for the financial collapse of 2008 should go to jail? “Things are a lot more nuanced than that.” Are the fines that banks are paying for their role in the collapse appropriate? “I won’t just sit here an opine on things.” Is Hillary Clinton a big government liberal? “I’m not going to get into talking about the Secretary.”

At one point, Christie felt compelled to explain to Harwood why he was avoiding many of his questions. He didn’t want to answer them, he said, unless and until he ran for President. He added that he thought it was “frankly immature to be expressing a lot of those opinions just because I’m sitting here…and you ask.” He told Harwood could “ask whatever you like” but “I don’t have to answer.”

He seemed particularly concerned that his answer would be “on tape” and could be used against him…

Oh, yeah, he’s running for president.  No doubt about it now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

That’s Rich

I imagine some Republican strategists are trying to seize on Hillary Clinton’s inartful comment about personal wealth last week and call her and the Democrats out for being hypocrites: they attacked Mitt Romney for being rich and yet here is a multi-millionaire saying that she’s not “truly well off.”

But that misses the point.  The problem with Mitt Romney wasn’t that he was stinking rich or even that he didn’t get it that most other people don’t have a couple of Cadillacs or a car elevator.  I’ve known people who were heirs to vast fortunes who lived in modest homes, drove cars bought off the lot (one even had a Pontiac 6000 LE Safari station wagon), and taught high school math.  They also spent a lot of time giving their money away to causes that truly needed it more than they did.

The difference between being a rich Republican and a rich Democrat is that most Americans know where they stand on dealing with issues that touch the 47%, and it’s going to be hard to convince them that Hillary Clinton wouldn’t be in favor of raising the minimum wage.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Bitter Little Pill

Shorter Ross Douthat yesterday in the New York Times: “The only way for the Republicans to win in 2016 is if Hillary Clinton doesn’t run.”

He’s so cute when he’s so bitter.  It’s a snarky little piece even for him, unloading on Ms. Clinton’s as-yet unpublished book Hard Choices, where he labels it “chloroform in print” and says the “author” (his use of quotes around “author” implies she staffed out the job) intends to lull the reader into a state of unconsciousness until — ta da! — “the first … female … president” is standing on the steps of the Capitol taking the oath of office and presiding over the last remnants of the Democratic empire just as Franz Joseph did over Austria-Hungary the day before World War I broke out.

I really have no idea what proposals Clinton will run on, what arguments she’ll make. But as with Franz Josef, it’s not her policies that make her formidable; it’s the multitudes that “Hillary” the brand and icon now contains. Academic liberalism and waitress-mom populism and Davos/Wall Street/Bloomberg centrism. Female empowerment and stand-by-your-man martyrdom. The old Clintonian bond with minority voters and her own 2008 primary-trail identification with Scots-Irish whites. And then the great trifecta: continuity with the Obama present, a restoration of the more prosperous Clintonian past and (as the first … female … president) a new “yes we can” progressive future.

Like the penultimate Hapsburg emperor with his motley empire, then, she has the potential to embody a political coalition — its identities and self-conceptions, its nostalgias and aspirations — in ways that might just keep the whole thing hanging together.

But without her, the deluge.

It tells us a lot more about the Republicans’ state of decrepitude if their only hope for success lies in the other party not showing up.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sunday Reading

Moderate This — Jonathan Chait takes on the hurt fee-fees of confused journalists.

The Obama administration, like previous administrations, holds frequent briefing sessions with straight news reporters and opinion journalists, both conservative and liberal. (I don’t recall the Bush administration ever inviting liberal opinion journalists to briefings, but I may be mistaken.) There are some liberal opinion journalists, most of whom generally agree with Obama’s policies.

It’s interesting to try to disentangle the competing strands of liberal ideology (which is a perfectly valid function of opinion journalism) and Democratic partisanship (which, at the very least, is not the same thing), and whether White House access can corrupt or influence their incentives. A National Journal story by James Oliphant, headlined “Progressive Bloggers Are Doing the White House’s Job,” horribly botches the topic by blurring everything together. Hence, Dave Weigel is cited as a prime example of the administration using liberal bloggers as a partisan message vehicle despite the fact that Weigel has not attended such briefings and frequently takes unfriendly stances toward Obama. Likewise, Ezra Klein is cited as both an example of a partisan water-carrier and an independent, truth-to-power-speaker in the same story. It’s a total, incoherent mess.

The way to make any sense of it, I think, is an expression of a certain kind of centrist worldview currently embodied in its most flamboyant form by Oliphant’s colleague, Ron Fournier. The foundation of the Fournier epistemology is the premise that the truth lies somewhere between the positions of the two major American political parties at any given moment. Deviations from that truth can be explained by partisanship or ideology, which Fournier regards as more or less the same thing. In Fournier’s mind, since any expression of non-partisanship is by definition true, any attack on such a claim is by definition partisan, and therefore false.

The Case for Joe Biden’s Candidacy — Peter Beinart in The Atlantic explains that “What the Democratic Party, and the nation, need is a real debate between Hillary Clinton’s interventionism and the vice president’s restraint.”

Although Biden, like Clinton, supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, those calamitous wars have instilled in him a new devotion to the cautious realism that men like Scowcroft and Baker exemplify. In 2009, according to Bob Woodward, the then-secretary of state argued passionately for sending 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, at one point pounding her fist on the table and declaring, “We must act like we’re going to win.” Biden, by contrast, didn’t think defeating the Taliban was either possible nor necessary, and argued for a narrower mission focused on al-Qaeda alone. What she feared most in Afghanistan was chaos and barbarism. What he feared most was quagmire.

Biden, according to Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes’s book, HRC, was also skeptical of a Western air campaign in Libya. Clinton supported it. Biden considered the raid on Osama bin Laden too risky. Clinton pushed Obama to go for it. Clinton, perhaps remembering the way her husband’s decision to arm Croat forces helped enable a peace deal in the former Yugoslavia, urged Obama to arm Syria’s rebels. Biden expressed caution once again. “Over the last few years, and especially amid the Arab Spring, events have forced the Obama White House to choose between its prudential instincts and its great ambitions,” Traub writes. “In almost every case Biden has sided with the skeptics.”

It would be a good thing for Democrats, and the country, if the private debate between Biden and Clinton went public. Otherwise, it’s likely that during the campaign Clinton will take stances more hawkish than Obama’s—partly because Ukraine has made hawkishness fashionable again and partly because that’s where her own instincts lie—but barely anyone will notice.

Unless, of course, she confronts the only other major potential candidate likely to stake out a position less interventionist than her own: Rand Paul.

Andy Borowitz on the most important thing Congress can do.

Millions of unemployed Americans who have fruitlessly been looking for work for months are determined that Congress get to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi, a new poll indicates.

According to the survey, job-seeking Americans hope that Congress will eventually do something about job creation, but they are adamant that it hold new hearings about Benghazi first.

By a wide majority, respondents to the poll “strongly agreed” with the statement “I would really like to find a job, but not if it in any way distracts Congress from my No. 1 concern: finding out what really happened in Benghazi.”

In related findings, a survey of Americans found that taxpayers overwhelmingly consider Benghazi hearings to be the best use of taxpayer money, well ahead of schools, roads, and infant nutrition.

In the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner released the following statement: “I want to reassure the American people that, until we have completed our Benghazi investigations, there will be absolutely no action on job creation, infrastructure, immigration, education, housing, or food.”

Doonesbury — Art critic.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Of Course It’s About Her

As several commenters noted, the GOP’s new-found interest in Benghazi! is all about getting at Hillary Clinton and undermining her run for president in 2016.

Even George F. Will knows that, and if he does, then so does everyone else.

I don’t know why any Democrat would want to participate in this. By boycotting it this obviously becomes a redundant and obviously partisan Republican exercise. It’s only a matter of time before Democrats raise the following question: would there be a select committee if it didn’t want to have to power to subpoena the former Secretary of State, obviously for reasons pertaining to presidential politics.

Wait for it: we’re going to get Vince Foster and Whitewater next.

The Clown Car Gets Another Passenger

Wonderful news, everybody.

clown-carGov. Rick Perry of Texas on Sunday sent some of his clearest signals of interest in a 2016 presidential bid, joking wryly about his “botched” run in 2012 but then adding that “I think America is a place that believes in second chances.”

[...]

Asked about what many saw as his “botched effort” at running in 2012 — when he was tripped up in part by an agonizing memory lapse during a nationally televised debate — Mr. Perry chuckled and said, “I would tend to agree with them on the botched effort side of it.”

But he went on to talk about “second chances,” and added, “I think that we see more character out of an individual by how do you perform after you fail and you go forward.”

If he’s going to use his last effort as an example of how to proceed, I am all for it.  That one was comedy gold.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

So Very Christian

Meet the next president of the Taliban States of America.

Darrell Trigg is running for president as the candidate of the Christian Party, whose platform calls for establishing Christianity as the official state religion, mandatory Bible study in public schools, the criminalization of homosexuality, the banning of curse words and pornography from television and the internet, and prison sentences for adulterers.

Check out the video in which he announces his candidacy.  What he lacks in charisma he makes up for in fanaticism.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

So Long, Rand Paul

Any chances that Rand Paul had of winning the base of the GOP are basically over.

As Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) ponders a presidential bid, he has lately made efforts to wrap himself in the banner of Ronald Reagan. In op-eds and speeches, the libertarian tea partier has increasingly invoked the Republicans’ most holy icon, especially after being attacked by members of his party’s establishment who have accused him of isolationism. Writing in the Washington Post last week, Paul likened his nuanced approach to foreign policy to what he claimed was Reagan’s embrace of “strategic ambiguity.” A few days earlier, at a so-called “Freedom Summit” in New Hampshire, Paul hailed Reagan as the last president who presided over the creation of millions of jobs, asserting that after the Gipper lowered tax rates, 20 million jobs were created and “more revenue came in.” (FactCheck.org concluded that Paul was “falsifying evidence”—and ignoring that more jobs were created during President Bill Clinton’s tenure when tax rates went up.) But Paul hasn’t always cast himself as much of a Reagan fan. In fact, when he stumped for his father in 2008 and again when ran for Senate in 2010, Paul often referred to the grand old man of the GOP with a touch of disappointment and criticism. And he routinely made an assertion that might seem like blasphemy to many Republicans: President Jimmy Carter had a better record on fiscal discipline than Reagan.

Not only is he trashing the reputation of “Ronald Reagan,” he’s saying nice things about Jimmy Carter.  Jimmy Carter.  He might as well have been caught eating off Michelle Obama’s salad bar.

Mr. Paul’s response — short version: It’s the Democrats’ fault St. Ronald signed all those tax increases.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Miami Bids on Democratic Convention 2016

From New Times:

Miami may be the site of the first part of Hillary Clinton’s coronation …or as it’s officially known, the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

After local leaders officially let the DNC know that they would be interested in hosting the shindig, the DNC selected Miami as one of 15 cities that it sent a “request for proposal” late yesterday.

According to CNN, other cities in the running include Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus (Ohio), Detroit, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, and Salt Lake City.Back in March, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, Miami Mayor Tomás P. Regalado, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and tourism bureau head William D. Talbert II all banded together to send DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (whose Broward-based district dips into some northern parts of the county) a letter signaling their interest.

Wasserman Schultz told CNN that in addition to logistical concerns, the committee would also take into account a city’s relationship with organized labor and key constituencies.

[...]

Local leaders have indicated that their plan would call to host the convention at the American Airlines Arena.

That’s about five blocks from my office.  Parking will be a nightmare.

The last time there was a national political convention in the Miami area, it was 1972 and it was a two-fer: both Democrats and Republicans held them at the Miami Beach Convention Center.  From them we got McGovern/Eagleton Shriver and Nixon/Angew redux.  Both ended badly.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

That Won’t Teach Them

Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens would like the Republicans to nominate Rand Paul so they can get the crap kicked out of them.

This man wants to be the Republican nominee for president.
And so he should be. Because maybe what the GOP needs is another humbling landslide defeat. When moderation on a subject like immigration is ideologically disqualifying, but bark-at-the-moon lunacy about Halliburton is not, then the party has worse problems than merely its choice of nominee.

The problem with that plan is that the majority of the GOP would not see it as a life lesson but yet another reason to move further to the right: to them, none of the candidates in the last twenty years have been conservative enough.  Even Ronald Reagan wouldn’t pass their current requirements of hard-core wingnutsery.

The lesson would be lost on them.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

No Love For Jeb

Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), currently dipping his toe in the water for 2016, opined that undocumented immigrants are breaking the law as an “act of love.”

Imagine how well that went over with his fellow Republicans.

The comments raised eyebrows, even among Bush allies and supporters of immigration reform. Boehner, appearing on Fox News on Monday, said he understood what Bush was saying but that “we’re also a nation of laws. And for those who are here without documents, they’re going to have to face the law at some point.”

McCain, an author of the Senate immigration bill that Bush has praised, told The Hill on Tuesday Bush’s point “probably could have been better phrased.”

“They came here for opportunity,” McCain said of illegal immigrants. “That’s why wave after wave of immigrants have come to this country, because they wanted a better life. I think that’s what he meant.”

I think Mr. Bush doesn’t really want to run for president.  So far he’s exhibited about as much passion for it as you’d expect from someone emptying a cat box, and if he’s trying to be the “reasonable alternative” to the Tea Party-infused electorate, he’s going over like a ham sandwich at a seder.

I think it’s safe to say that a year from now, Jeb Bush is going to be just another guy picking up a cup of coffee at the Starbucks on Miracle Mile in downtown Coral Gables.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Jeb Buzz

It’s never really gotten much traction; neither has it gone away:

The big political buzz over the weekend—reinforced by the related story of the “Sheldon Primary” going on in Las Vegas—involved reports that an effort to “draft” (a technical term meaning “provide the requisite money commitments”) Jeb Bush for a 2016 presidential campaign was gaining real momentum among the Republican donor class. According to WaPo’s Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, there are signs Bush might be coming around after an alleged lack of interest in following his father and brother into the White House. Apparently no one even remotely comes close to Bush as the favorite of former Romney donors. Despite all sorts of awkwardness on the immigration issue, he’s presumed to have unique appeal among Hispanics as a Spanish-speaker married to a Mexican-American, and a big general election advantage in Florida.

Another Bush candidacy would shake up the GOP primary and not in a good way for them.  It would immediately make Marco Rubio’s chances problematic — two candidates running from Florida? — and it would knock off Chris Christie’s chances even if they hadn’t already gotten stuck in traffic.

Weirder things have happened, but it would be a stretch for Jeb Bush to burst forth as the frontrunner.  The Republicans have abandoned both the politics and the style of the party that Jeb Bush belonged to when he was governor of Florida ten years ago.  Back then he got along with Democrats, he didn’t say strange things about God, gays, and women, and he came across as a reasonable person on TV.  In today’s GOP, that show closes out of town.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

That Giant Sucking Sound

It wasn’t hard to miss: that sound was the entire Republican party and its 2016 hopefuls on their knees kissing the nether regions of Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the man who makes the money off the suckers at the crap tables and turns it into buying the votes of the rest of the suckers out there.

It’s hard to imagine a political spectacle more loathsome than the parade of Republican presidential candidates who spent the last few days bowing and scraping before the mighty bank account of the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. One by one, they stood at a microphone in Mr. Adelson’s Venetian hotel in Las Vegas and spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition (also a wholly owned subsidiary of Mr. Adelson), hoping to sound sufficiently pro-Israel and pro-interventionist and philo-Semitic to win a portion of Mr. Adelson’s billions for their campaigns.

Gov. John Kasich of Ohio made an unusually bold venture into foreign policy by calling for greater sanctions on Iran and Russia, and by announcing that the United States should not pressure Israel into a peace process. (Wild applause.) “Hey, listen, Sheldon, thanks for inviting me,” he said. “God bless you for what you do.”

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin brought up his father’s trip to Israel, and said he puts “a menorah candle” next to his Christmas tree. The name of his son, Matthew, actually comes from Hebrew, he pointed out.

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey also described his trip to Israel, but then did something unthinkable. He referred to the West Bank as the “occupied territories.” A shocked whisper went through the crowd. How dare Mr. Christie implicitly acknowledge that Israel’s presence in the West Bank might be anything less than welcome to the Palestinians? Even before Mr. Christie left the stage, leaders of the group told him he had stumbled, badly.

And sure enough, a few hours later, Mr. Christie apologized directly to Mr. Adelson for his brief attack of truthfulness.

It’s not that I don’t get it that every politician running for office tries to curry favor with big donors to either party; that’s been going on forever.  But in this case it’s so blatantly clumsy and sycophantic that its embarrassing even for the GOP, a party that set the standard for shameless.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole lot of them signed up for the free introductory briss.